How this “Rabbit Thing” all began …
We got into the Rabbit Habit in 1996 “quite by accident”. Our son wanted a dog of his own but we worked on a ranch and this wasn’t an option. We went to a horse auction one night and someone had brought in goats, chickens, and rabbits. We bought a cute black and white rabbit with a cage for about $10. No one at the sale knew how to determine the sex of the rabbit so I headed to the library and checked out every book I could find on rabbits. Bob Bennett’s books are great, by the way.
I read everything thoroughly and was able to determine we had a Dutch doe. We were enjoying this “rabbit thing” and found some free rabbits and cages through local advertisements. I walked into the shed a couple of weeks later to what appeared to be an explosion of hair and wondered “what the heck is going on?”. I’d remembered something about does pulling hair in one of the books and ran to quickly thumb through it. You guessed it, we were having babies. We were not prepared — no nest box, no intention of raising rabbits, etc. We loved it!!!!
I’d read in one of the books that it costs just as much to feed a mixed breed rabbit as it does a purebred and a 4-Her was giving away a lynx Mini Rex pair and we fell in love with their velvet coats. At this point we’re quickly running out of cages. I see an add for a 3-stack with 6 holes. I think “great, we’ll never need more than that — this will be perfect”. Yeah, right. We go to pick up the cages and gee, the lady has Mini Rex and we take home a couple more. She also told us about “SHOWS”. We don’t need to show, but it would be fun to go. By now, my daughter (Amanda) is really into this while the son who started it all is quite content with his little “Dutch” doe.
Manda and I head to the show on a brisk Saturday morning. Wow, this is kind of fun! And … we buy two more rabbits (a black pair of Mini Rex) and a carrier as we had to get them home somehow. We’re talking on the way home and I said something ridiculous like “you know, it’s a 2-day show. Do you want to go tomorrow and take your rabbits to show?” And, off we went again Sunday morning. We found the lady who sold us the blacks and she helped Manda get entered and then our rabbit education really began.
We were fortunate to live in northern Illinois and could go to shows in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Iowa in addition to Illinois. We were gone most every weekend and LOVED it. We discovered ARBA, local clubs, state clubs, breed clubs, etc and really got involved. Amanda loved learning and devoured the Standard. A few weeks into this new adventure, the show needed a writer for Mini Rex. When they couldn’t find one, my daughter volunteered me — thank God I have a clerical background. And “thank you” to the judge and my helper for getting me through that ordeal. After that, I wrote at almost every show all day long. Manda, who was about 12 at the time, quickly learned as well and would take over so I could have a break every once in a while. We learned SO much and met great people showing other breeds.
I did the “mom” thing (I’m known to many only as “Manda’s mom”) and played chauffeur as well as helping her study for ARBA Royalty and her Registrar’s test. We attended several conventions and national shows and have rabbit friends all over the US — they’re the BEST!!! Manda worked with several other breeds in addition to the Mini Rex but the Mini Rex are our first and only true love.
Due to family circumstances, we got out of rabbits for a while but kept hearing the “call to come back” and now have Mini Rex again. Manda is back in rabbits again as well — some of you may remember Paradise Rabbitry in Illinois. We can’t wait to hit the show circuit, catch up with old friends and make new ones.
Rabbits are a great family hobby and most definitely one we’re glad to have found.